Description: Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?
When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.
Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.
Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.
Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?
After reading a few crime novels (mostly very good) The Little French Guesthouse made a lovely contrast. It was funny, warm, sad, poignant and very satisfying.
I found myself quickly becoming immersed in the story. There is no slow introduction. The first page starts with Emmy’s shocking discovery on the roof terrace.
Emmy and Nathan are spending two weeks at a beautiful French guesthouse in the Loire region run by Rupert and his wife Gloria in the hope that a break from work and stress will re-energise their relationship.
A few days into the holiday Rupert collapses in front of Emmy clutching his chest. She goes searching for his wife and is shocked when she finds Gloria and Nathan ‘romping’ on the roof terrace.
Rupert is taken to hospital where he is found to have angina but he has also damaged a ligament in his leg when he collapsed and can barely walk. This is a problem because Rupert did all the cooking. It would seem Gloria is just there to meet and greet and look decorative.
A few days later, shortly after important guests have arrived who are very demanding and will expect the very best of food and service, Nathan and Gloria have run off together and Emmy feels sorry for Rupert and ends up helping out by shopping, cleaning, cooking under supervision rather than returning home early.
What starts out with Emmy feeling she has to help Rupert run the guest house for a day or two until he can arrange for other help leads to her staying on for the duration of her holiday and then being asked to extend it by another week.
In a very short time she has made new friends and she feels settled and comfortable. She helps Rupert but also takes time to relax in the beautiful surroundings. There is even some love interest.
All too soon Emmy has to go back to her well paid job in the UK. . Rupert comes up with a plan that would enable her to relocate to France and help him run his business and perhaps cultivate her own business interests. There is much agonising as Emmy considers her options.
I like the writing style. Helen’s description of the guesthouse and its surroundings is wonderful. I really wanted to be there, in fact I felt I could be there, sitting reading in the peaceful garden, the bees humming, the gardener working somewhere nearby or enjoying the town on market day with all the noise, bustle, smells, having coffee, chatting. Sounds idyllic.
The characters were well drawn and easy to visualise. Caring, thoughtful, hardworking, capable Emmy who mucks in when things need done and endears herself to everyone. She sounds wonderful, someone you would want to be friends with. Owner Rupert I think is usually larger than life, congenial, friendly, appreciative, well known and respected in the area.
Nathan came across as arrogant, snobbish, mean, selfish – not so much of a sympathetic character! Gloria seemed more self-centred, lazy, and probably a little past her prime. I got a sense she was disappointed with her life at the guest house.
I liked the fact that all the characters are easy to visualise. The writing was so good.
This is the first book I have read by Helen Pollard but I’m sure it won’t be the last. It is everything it says on the cover: The perfect feel good summer read.